For those of you contemplating a freelance public relations career, listen up. There’s a common misconception that working for yourself involves the comforts of sleeping-in, not bathing and doing away with all the deadlines and pressures of agency life. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, after two weeks of sleeping-in, avoiding showers and “real work” you’ll find yourself freaking out about your finances and the threat of lice. In reality, you have to work twice as hard. You no longer have access to new business development, media relations, crisis and other such specialized teams that the big agencies have (not to mention health coverage, holiday parties and free cake down the hall).
Now, if you’re still interested in entering the freelance rodeo here’s some free, non-billable advice before you ride:
1) Utilize Social Networking and Stay Connected
I cannot stress the importance of keeping in touch with everybody you know and have known in life enough. The more people know what you can bring to the table, the better (including your non-agency contacts). You never know where a lead could come from. I’ve had friends of friends email me with work after speaking with them before a Cubs game.
2) Meet With Other Freelancers
I meet with other freelancers about once a month to discuss current client work. Not only does this force you to put pants on, it keeps you connected to the PR world and can often lead to additional work. Make the most of these freelancer meetings and discuss what’s working, what isn’t, share contacts, etc. If you don’t know any freelancers, ask agency HR desks for contacts, Google them or listen for us pitching media at coffee houses across the city (pay attention for words like, “release,” “world’s largest,” “survey,” “per our conversation,” “what about next week,” and “you don’t know how bad I need this national hit, for THE LOVE OF GOD, RUN THIS STORY!”).
3) Avoid iSolation
It’s so easy to say that all PR professionals need is access to a Wi-Fi to get it done. While everybody is interfacing with iPhones, email, texts and IM – it still helps to meet people, especially media, in-person. I suggest utilizing trips to
4) Find Your Niche
Maybe you love pitching media and that’s your thing, or maybe you love creating stunts and putting on big media events, or drafting news releases…whatever it is, focus on your strong suit(s) and look for that type of work. The more offerings, the more work you can take on – so think about what skills you have (or still need to acquire) before you make the decision to leave agency life.
5) Develop a Website or Blog
Creating a Web site for yourself helps, not only to merchandise your resume/offering, but in generating potential new business via viral spiders and search optimization. The more interaction, such as blog posts and links you have on your site, the more likely it will show-up in searches. Ron knows this, which is why he’s constantly updating this blog with new content and shows up even when you Google the word “Pandas.”
Mitch Delaplane has over 10 years of integrated, public relations experience and has been offering a broad range of creative services as a freelance specialist (www.PitchPointPR.com) in